Saul Bellow, American Fiction, and the Great Books Tradition

Lecture by Zachary Leader, Professor of English and Creative Writing (University of Roehampton, London).


This is a talk about the importance of the Great Book Tradition in twentieth-century American fiction, with principal reference to the major Jewish-American novelists of the period – Bellow in particular, but also Roth and Malamud. The talk involves discussion of the role of ‘Great Books’ or ‘Humanities’ or ‘Western Civilization’ courses in American universities and of the threat such courses faced, continue to face, from attacks on the canon and the claims of multiculturalism.